Sunday, December 21, 2014

POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 2:24 PM
Jose Garces working the room at the Garces Family Foundation gala, Oct. 3, 2013. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

The Garces Family Foundation, which works to give the immigrant community access to health care and education, has its annual gala on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the Kimmel Center.

Of course, there will be food. Lavish displays of food.

In a quickie Twitter contest, I'm giving away passes for two people to attend a buffet staged by some of the biggest names in the local food scene.

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 11:09 PM

Your restaurant or bar has fallen on hard times. You feel compelled to put your sagging fortunes into the hands of an expert with a reality show.

The expert moves in, does poignant interviews with owners and staff, seizes upon the problems, performs renovations and reopens the place to fanfare.

And sometimes the bar owners turn around and say "yeccch."

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 4:03 PM
Building under construction at 701-703 N. Second St. that will house Spuntino. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

Spuntino - the brothers-owned Doylestown wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzeria that's one of the brighter newcomers in the region's pizza scene - is making a play for Northern Liberties.

Salvatore and Robert Carollo are due to go before the zoning committee of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association on Tuesday, Oct. 28 to discuss their plans for the ground floor of a new building being erected on the corner of Second Street and Fairmount Avenue. It's next door to Bourbon & Branch, the bar that succeeded Liberties.

Salvatore Carollo tells me that they will not seek a liquor license.

POSTED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 10:15 AM
City Tavern chef/ownerr Walter Staib looks out the window next to the George Washington table at the restaurant. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

City Tavern, the popular re-creation of an 18th-century pub at Second and Walnut Streets in Old City, comes back at lunchtime Friday, Oct. 24 - one week after an early morning fire.

Walter Staib, the chef/owner, said he didn't think the damage was severe initially. It started on the loading platform outside the restaurant in a bin used by his linen service, he said. "Spontaneous combustion, maybe the chemicals, or something else?" he asked. "I don't know. I've been doing the same shtick for 20 years with no problems." A Fire Department spokesman said the fire was still under investigation.

Staib said the fire took out the air-conditioning compressor and made its way into the kitchen by way of the exhaust system. "We have a state-of-the-art fire [suppression] system, which knocked it down," he said. But the chemicals ruined the kitchen, including some furnishings and the ceiling.

POSTED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 1:23 AM

George Sabatino is out there with Aldine: - his long-in-the-works restaurant/bar on the northwest corner of 19th and Chestnut Streets (215-454-6529).

There is minimal signage outside. Use the brown door on Chestnut Street, to the left of ground-floor occupant, and walk upstairs.

In the high-ceilinged dining room, Boxwood Architects went spare: dark oak wooden floors, plum and gray wall accents, lots of old photos, an 8-seat, granite-topped bar lit under enormous globes, silver tin ceiling and open kitchen. The corner space overlooks the intersection, and street lighting creates a lovely glow.

POSTED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 12:22 AM
Chef Karen Nicolas at work. ( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

Tria, which started 10 years ago as a cozy bar specializing in cheeses, beer and wine, has been moving up.

The first two locations - at 18th and Sansom (2004) and 12th and Spruce (2007) - are rolling right along. But last year's debut of Tria Taproom (2005 Walnut) brought with it more ambitious food (grilled flatbreads) along with an all-draft drink list of beer, wine, cider and sodas.

Jon Myerow and Michael McCaulley are stepping it up further with their next one, due in early 2015: Tria Fitler Square, replacing Dmitri's at 23d and Pine Streets. 

POSTED: Thursday, October 23, 2014, 3:36 PM
From the roof of Kensington Quarters. (Photo by @RyanScottPhoto, via Instagram)

Now how many restaurants can legitimately, proudly call themselves a meat market?

Kensington Quarters can and will. It's a butcher shop, a meat classroom, a restaurant and a bar under one roof, at 1310 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown.

It's just set its opening date: Wednesday, Oct. 29. Open Table should be up and running by Friday, Oct. 24.

POSTED: Thursday, October 23, 2014, 12:23 AM
Charlie was a sinner. Lowercase. Period. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

You have your restaurant location, concept, menu and decor ideas.

Then it comes down to the hard part. The name.

So many routes. You can honor a chef (Vetri, Morimoto, Serpico, Sbraga) or a child (Bridget Foy's, Talula's), celebrate a particular noun (Fork, Blackfish, Little Spoon Cafe), evoke an image (Chick-a-Licious), pay tribute to a neighborhood (Bainbridge Street Barrel House, Spring House Tavern), be silly (Hop Sing Laundromat), indulge in wordplay (Custard's Last Stand, Tequila Mockingbird), or use a foreign word or phrase (Lo Spiedo, Brigantessa).

About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at

Michael Klein
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